The magnanimous works of Cai Guo-Qiang, unique both in medium and form of expression, break the boundaries between performance and still-life art. Via the use of gunpowder and traditional Chinese ink, Cai merges East and West in a symbiotic poetry of explosive motion.
Project for Extraterrestrials No.21: Myth - Shooting the Suns (Lot 442) was created in 1994 for the Kroller-Muller Museum, Otterlo, in the Netherlands. This sublime work imbues a delicate beauty, paradoxically created via violent means. One can visualise the multi-layers of the Earth's atmosphere, expressed in the explosive curve of gunpowder and ink. Bursting forth from the Exosphere is a spear surmounted by further explosive remnants at its head. When regarding Cai's work, it is pivotal to grasp that his concept extends beyond a makeshift, momentary theatricality and possesses a sensibility that perceives the earth as one of the planets. In this twenty-first project in Cai's 'Project for Extraterrestrials' series, Cai once again embarks on his dialogue with the universe at large. The initial inspiration for this body of work came from Cai's profound idea that his works would be visible from space, and therefore bridge the boundary between our world and that beyond. Cai's work also offers a sense of retrospectivity; a unique perception of our world as seen from the eyes of extraterrestrials.
Drawing for Light Cycle: Explosion Project for Central Park, New York (Lot 443), executed in 2003, was an explosion event that illuminated Central Park in aerial drawings of light and fire in celebration of Central Park's 150th Anniversary. This theatrical splendour unfolded in three stages from five firing locations throughout Central Park. The central creative motif of the event climaxed as a 1,000 ft-high halo made of light and fire. The stark contrast to the darkness that characterizes Central Park at night heightened this magnificent work as it transformed the Park into the brightest spot in Manhattan, highlighting the Park as the heart of the city on such a night of celebration. In the tangible artistic realisation to mark the event, Cai created this work of gunpowder and ink on paper, poignantly reflecting the fantastical fire halo that burst forth from the enigmatically dark centre of New York.